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Posts Tagged ‘SF Weekly’



Carly’s Gambit, GOP Vote Flow, Loretta’s Handbag

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

carlyleftIn the path of Hurricane Carly: As the new L.A. Times poll confirmed the Field Poll finding that Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Pleistocene, runs neck and neck with Carly Fiorina in the GOP Senate race, inquiring minds want to know if her strategy of ignoring the guy isn’t a blunder-in-the-making.

Her new site skewering Barbara Boxer for the awful You Tube moment when the Democratic incumbent got all huffy at a public hearing with a high-ranking military officer for addressing her as “Ma’am,” is a smart stroke, keying off the fact that your average voter doesn’t really care all that much for imperious, self-important, high-handed arrogance and condescension in their elected officials.

That said, there’s a lot of anti-Fiorina sentiment simmering out there in the conservative blogosphere, where some of the most passionate, right-wing  Republican voters are no doubt drawing their first impressions of iCarly.

The reliably conservative Eric Hogue has a piece up headlined “She’s Carly Fiorina – California’s Scozzafava,’” in honor of the New York state lawmaker purged from the party in the much-watched 23rd congressional district race in that state.  The Fiorina-as-RINO frame also is a regular feature at Red State - Hed: “There are two kinds of Republicans” – where Neil Stevens bashes her on an almost daily basis.

John Wildermuth examined the ignore DeVore strategy over at Fox and Hounds, concluding that the huge cash advantage she’s sure to enjoy likely means it won’t matter in the end, despite current polling.

The danger for iCarly, however, is less the long shot possibility that she loses to DeVore, and more that she comes out of the primary without the enthusiasm or backing of the populist wing of the GOP, where all the heat and light is to be found. Running a general election campaign in a primary is a risky business, and the Hurricane’s handlers need to find a way for her to make nice with the tea bag crowd.

GOP Civil War meme II: We’re not really sure what this means, but the LAT poll offers some interesting data on the Republican side of the two statewide primaries; while Fiorina and DeVore run knuckle to knuckle, there’s a huge difference in whom their supporters like for governor.

DeVore voters favor former Congressman Tom Campbell over eMeg Whitman 42-35%, with another 16% for Steve “the Commish” Poizner.

At the same time, Campbell voters in the GOP governor’s race prefer DeVore over Fiorina in the Senate race 42-24%. And the Republicans and Independents supporting Poizner in the governor’s race also tilt for DeVore – 42-36% over Fiorina.

Whitman is leading the governor’s race in the survey, with 35%, but her voters tilt heavily for Fiorina in the Senate race, 38-27% over DeVore.

Which all shakes out like this:

Gov Race                Senate Race
Whitman voter –> Fiorina
Campbell voter –> DeVore
Poizner voter –>     DeVore

Senate Race          Gov Race
Fiorina voter –>   Whitman
DeVore voter — >  Campbell

Thoughts?

The anybody but Jerry clu029-588b: Amid all the gab and gossip being slung about another Democrat jumping into the governor’s race against Jerry Brown, this  video is required viewing for anyone talking up Rep. Loretta Sanchez as the last, great hope for the party.

For reasons that remain mysterious, Sanchez, D-Disneyland, agreed to empty her purse – and worse for her, to talk about it – for a reporter from Politico. Her bag, she begins, has drawings of “skinny sexy women hanging out having coffee or tea in some café in Europe.”

“Isn’t it cute?” she says. “I love the size of this bag because you can carry anything in it.”

If the gubernatorial bid doesn’t work out, we hear there’s an opening to be Paris Hilton’s new BFF.

At least one guy can count: One part Milton Friedman, one part Diogenes, Tom Campbell is out with an update noting the accuracy of his forecast last summer, when he blew the whistle on the gimmicks and phony assumptions underpinning the “balanced budget” passed by Arnold and his Capitol posse.

With Gov. Schwarzmuscle now auditioning for a remake of “Groundhog Day” as he once again proclaims dire warnings about a looming $14 billion shortfall – I’m shocked! Shocked! – Campbell’s the only guy in the race who’s consistently been both realistic and specific in talking about the budget mess. Too bad he can’t calculate a way to boost the revenue side of his campaign ledger.031-631

Waldo’s Evil Twin: Give it up for Joe Eskenazi and the SF Weekly for their delightful Where’s Gavin meter. You gotta check it out: here.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near, courtesy of Miss Used To Be California. Update: Ms. Prejean becomes the first person in history to make Larry King look like Mike Wallace.

Press Clips: Three Columns and a Bird In the Hand

Friday, October 30th, 2009

none_skelton_Score one for old school: The best columnists are first and foremost good reporters, as George Skelton proved anew this week, with a splendid 848-word takedown of Meg Whitman for the latest in her string of brazen departures from the truth. Capturing the coveted Calbuzz Little Pulitzer for Investigative Punditry,  George did an honest day’s worth of Actual Reporting to absolutely nail eMeg with a piece called “Meg Whitman’s Radio Whoppers” (memo to copy desk: nice hed).

The L.A. Timesman painstakingly demolished her phony claim that state spending has increased 80 percent in 10 years – for those keeping score at home, the true, slightly smaller, figure is, um, 27 percent:

We instinctively grant latitude to advertisers, whether they’re peddling politicians, dog food or miracle paring knives. But we do expect that an ad will not flat-out lie…

Now, in the very first series of radio ads in the 2010 gubernatorial race, comes blatant baloney from billionaire political novice Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of EBay who is running for the Republican nomination.

Blatant baloney indeed. This is now at least the third time in a few weeks that Her Megness has been exposed as an almost total stranger to the truth. After her ceaseless dissembling about her disgraceful voting record and the bald-faced lie she told conservative radio yakker Eric Hogue in promising to debate Steve Poizner three times before winter, this latest bit of stinky cheese has the full aroma of something rancid.

As we used to say at the city desk, if it happens once it’s news, twice it’s a coincidence and three times, it’s a trend.

vidablueWeintraub Watch: Ahem, ahem (sound of ponderous throat-clearing):

The last time California elected a governor who was pro-life, Ronald Reagan was president, Vida Blue was pitching for the San Francisco Giants and Gavin Newsom, now San Francisco’s mayor, was a sophomore at the University of Santa Clara . It was 1986 when George Deukmejian beat Tom Bradley in a re-match of their 1982 nail-biter.

We offer that ersatz column lede as an antidote to this unfortunately real one:

“The last time California elected a governor from Northern California, John F. Kennedy was president, the San Francisco Giants had just won their first National League pennant, and Gavin Newsom, now San Francisco’s mayor, had not been born. It was 1962 when Gov. Edmund G. Brown won a second term by defeating Richard M. Nixon.”

Now, Calbuzz is simply delighted that Dan Weintraub got himself a forum in the ByGodAllMighty New York Times (even if only in the NYT’s skimpy Bay Area pages), but we really wish he’d borrow a page from Skelton’s book and do some actual reporting so he could write something relevant about California politics.

The stop-the-presses premise of last Sunday’s column – that the state in 2010 will elect a governor from Northern, not Southern, California – is nothing but fluffy flapdoodle. (Especially when, just the week before, Weintraub teed up a chin-stroker quoting a top legislator as saying, “The whole Northern California versus Southern California frame is so 1980s. It’s different now”).

Lest this seem unduly harsh, we hasten to add that we, of all people, understand how truly difficult it is to come up with ONE COLUMN A WEEK(!!!). Because we’re collegial and collaborative fellows who understand that There Is No “I” in T-E-A-M, here are some suggested ledes for future – strange but true! – political anomaly columns:

1-The 2010 governor’s race is the first in memory in which 60 percent of the candidates have first names with five letters  while only 40 percent have three, The Times has learned.

2-Next year’s election will mark the sixth consecutive contest for governor of California without a strong Armenian-American in the field, according to veteran political professionals on this coast.

3-For only the third time this century, a gubernatorial campaign will be conducted without a contender named Angelides strongly positioned to win his party’s nomination, sources said.

You could look it up.

joe_matthews280x350

Going, going, con-con: Our Department of Drill Down Policy Analysis and Professional Wonkery  is still working its way with a yellow highlighter through the 8,000 words of the second of two initiatives sponsored by the Bay Area Council aimed at convening a constitutional convention in California.

While awaiting what we like to call their work product deliverable, we deduce that the best online package put together on the proposals to date  may be found over at Fox and Hounds, where proprietor Joel Fox, the estimable Joe Mathews and the inevitable John Wildermuth cobbled together an examination of the matter from various perspectives.

The reliably nimble Mathews piece,which posits a batch of not-so-frequently-asked questions, is the best place to start, as he gets elbow deep in the crankcase grease of the thing, and pulls out some surprising spare parts:

So what’s not on the table?

Raising or reducing taxes and fees. Specifically, the convention’s revisions, amendments or suggested statutory changes “may not include new language, or alter existing language, that (1) directly imposes or reduces any taxes or fees; (2) sets the frequency at which real property is assessed or re-assessed; or (3) defines “change in ownership’ as it relates to any tax or fee.’”

Are you kidding?

It was just a few months ago that Calbuzz was defending con con sponsors in their dispute with Capitol Weekly, which had reported that Bay Area Council types were quietly maneuvering to banish debate about Proposition 13 from the convention agenda. Now it appears CapWeekly had it right along.

middle_fingerA Middle Finger Scoop: Mega-kudos to Tim Redmond, our mildly eccentric old friend at the SF Bay Guardian, who scooped the world with his blog post demonstrating that Governor Schwarzmuscle had issued a veto message about one of SF Assman Tom Ammiano’s bills that spelled out “I Fuck You” with the first letter of the first word in nine consecutive lines.

When we emailed Redmond (who apparently was not wearing a Dr, Hackenflack decoder ring) how he’d cracked the code, he said:

Honestly, I got a tip to look at it (as you know, once you’ve been doing this for 25 years people call with all kinds of stuff), and once you look at it it’s pretty clear. Amazing, huh?

Absolutely bro. Another amazing thing was that rival news organizations jumped in to follow Redmond’s scoop, rather than pooh-poohing it or pretending it didn’t exist, in direct violation of traditional San Francisco journalistic practice. The consistently quick off the mark S.F. Weekly, the Guardian’s chief rival, came back with its own scoop, reporting that a top  mathematician put the odds at  1 in 2 billion that the governor’s salute to Ammiano was a coincidence, while the dry-witted John Diaz at the Chron used the same technique to embed his own secret message to the governor (“grow up girlie-man”) in an editorial tut-tutting at Arnold for the stunt.

Good times.

Jerry-CNBC Replay Meets Chron-Times Dust-up

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

023-185After Jerry Brown smacked around money honey Michelle Caruso-Cabrera on national TV Wednesday, the vapid CNBC yakker took to her blog to try to win the argument post facto, kinda like a sloppy drunk  mumbling imaginary “I should have told him” lines to herself after getting 86ed from a saloon for acting the fool. Alas, all Ms. Michelle did was dig herself in deeper.

In trying to pooh-pooh the scope of AG Brown’s lawsuit against State Street Bank, she merely proved her incompetence by using a fallacious calculation of damages (based on California’s entire population instead of the much smaller number of actual plaintiffs enrolled in state pension plans).

In reflexively and aggressively defending the bank by portraying Brown’s motivation as totally political, she underscored the condescending contempt that Wall Street hotshots and those paid to kiss their butts for a living have for the rest of us hoi polloi types.

And by invoking as a proper role model for Brown the former New York AG Eliot Spitzer, driven from office by a scandal involving his kink for boning hookers while clad only in executive, knee-length socks, she revealed herself as one of the more dim-witted alums of Wellesley, a fine university, except for its student body’s popular weekend tradition of piling aboard the “Fuck Truck.”

With Crusty twisting the knife by posting his own Huffpost blog, he came away from the incident a clear winner, looking like a champion of the little guy standing up to financial service scumbags, despite the suspicions of some of our friends on the left that it’s more of a pose than a passion.

dragonflippedThe second biggest media kerfuffle of the week came about when Chronsman Phil Bronstein, the Abe Mellinkoff of the new millennium, all but accused the New York Times of plagiarism by noting the similarities between the anecdotal lede of a recent story in his paper and that of a feature featured in the Times’ much-ballyhooed new Bay Area section, which is aimed at eating the remaining crumbs of the Chronicle’s lunch.

Whereupon the nimble and resourceful SF Weekly quickly noted that the Chron lede he cited itself bore a striking resemblance to that of a Long Beach Post-Telegram story published days before.  This was quickly followed by a brushback blog from (all rise) the Times associate managing editor for standards, Philip B. Corbett, who declared Bronstein’s bitch to be “ridiculous.” El Macho, studiously ignoring the Long Beach-Chronicle connection, riposted by harrumphing that he expected more from the Times.

Then he resumed channeling the late Mellinkoff, a longtime High Sheriff of the Chronicle newsroom who, in the twilight of a storied career, was shunted off to write an ed-page column, which longtime rival Bill German  famously declared should always end with the phrase “Solution Tomorrow.”

weintraub

Speaking of self-referential columnists: Calbuzz kudos to Dan Weintraub, longtime opiner at the B-who’s bailed to launch a new web site (brave man) focused on health care, and to write a Sunday column for the NYT’s aforementioned Bay Area pages. But what’s with the self important farewell piece? We counted no less than 25 uses of the word “I,” along with 14 references to “my,” in the piece, an enough-about-me-what-do-you-think-of-me, self-satisfied summing up of what a splendid fellow is Dan Weintraub. Did we mention he  practically invented the Internets?

“While that change has been difficult for the newspaper industry’s business model, I’ve been a big supporter of the Internet as a way for us to better connect with our readers. With my editors’ support, I’ve tried to be a pioneer in the field, and now, to their chagrin, I am taking what I’ve learned and leaving to do my own thing.”

Trust us, Dan, they’ll get over it.

jerrytwirl

Don’t spill that seed: All right thinking Calbuzzers — even the gnostic monads among us — know quite well that the “Omega Seed” refers to the universal and ultimate encapsulation of all the information-learning generated by evolutionary development, a fascinating idea developed by Paolo Soleri and his Arcosanti Project.

Now the Omega Seed has surfaced in the governor’s race, as A-list political reporters recall Brown asking Soleri about the idea, in one of a series of interviews with innovative thinkers he conducted years ago that form the spine of his ’90s era book “Dialogues.”

With anti-Brown political oppo types (we name no names) just now mischievously sowing the field of Campaign ’10 with seeds of ridicule about the General’s, um, iconoclastic past, artifacts like his book and transcripts of his old KPFA radio shows are suddenly – mysteriously! -   turning up in blogs and the columns of California’s finest newspapers, as purported evidence of the strangeness and wackiness of “Moonbeam” Brown.

But here’s the beauty part: As with the Omega Seed notion, the kaleidoscopic “wacky” ideas that have fascinated Brown over the past four decades almost always show themselves to be genuinely interesting, intriguing and even important, and the spectacle of political hacks, insiders and scribes laughing uproariously at them just proves anew what a shallow bunch of anti-intellectual nitwits we are.

Today’s sign that the end of civilization is near (click on the photo): sweatlodge

9/11 Fishwrap: iCarly, Prince Gavin, Happy Goo-Goos

Friday, September 11th, 2009

carlyfistCarly of Arabia: Here at Calbuzz, our Department of Erudition’s Division of Bibliographic Resources and Recreational Imbibing maintains one of the world’s most extensive databases of news and information sources.

So it was that we happened to peruse some archival reports of AME Info, the widely-known and widely-respected provider of business information in and about the Middle East. Wherein we once again were beset by questions about what former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina knew, and when she knew it, about HP conducting business with Iran, despite a U.S. ban on trade with that, um, controversial nation.

Loyal readers will recall our kudos to Mike Zapler of the San Jose Mercury News, who recently reported on how H-P used a Middle East distributor called Redington Gulf to sell “hundreds of millions of dollars worth of printers and other products” to Iran during the leadership tenure of Fiorina, who has launched a bid to capture the Republican nomination for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat. In his piece, a spokeswoman stated that Fiorina was “unaware of any sales to Iran during her time at the company.”

Yet smack in the middle of Hurricane Carly’s 1999-2005 stint as CEO, on Oct. 5, 2003, AME Info reported that Redington Gulf had become H-P’s first Mideast distributor to surpass $100 million in transactions through its offices in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, “Iran and Egypt.”

“The seeds of the Redington/Hewlett-Packard relationship in the Middle East were sowed six years ago for one market – Iran – and one product group,” the story says (itals ours). “Today it boasts of covering the entire region and across multiple product groups and support services.”

redingtonThe piece even includes a happy photo of five smiling fellas – identified as “the management of Redington Gulf FZE and seniors from HP” – joining hands to cut a cake in celebration of “this milestone achievement.” And some milestone it was: HP in 2003 named Redington their “Wholesaler of the Year,” according to the distributor’s web site.

But Beth Miller, speaking for Fiorina’s nascent campaign, insisted that HP was “not doing business in Iran at all” while the wannabe Senator was CEO.

“To her knowledge, during her tenure, HP never did business in Iran, and fully complied with all U.S. sanctions and laws,” Miller told Calbuzz. She also cited recent comments by Redington CEO Raj Shankar, also reported by AME Info (take that CB!), stating that his company sells HP printers and supplies to “approved Iranian customers” – who aren’t in Iran.

“Redington Gulf does not engage in any commercial activity in Iran,” Shankar said. “The company does not conduct sales, stocking or import activities inside Iran, nor does it transact payments from any customer or bank in Iran. The business model is such that Redington does not take the product physically to Iran. Redington fulfills those products (in United Arab Emirates), and it is then for the customer to take the product into Iran and engage in local commerce.”

Bottom line: When Fiorina formally enters the race later this year, we foresee rampant curiosity about HP’s 2003 “Wholesaler of the Year.”

[After-the-fact credit note: Although it was suggested to us by someone else before he used it, David Dayen over at Calitics was the first writer we know of to deploy the label  "iCarly".]

Two faces of reform: Good-government reformers will take one look at the new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California and squeal with delight about the finding that 58% of likely voters say it would be a good idea to have a split roll property tax system – in which commercial properties gets taxed at current market value, instead of  being limited in the same way as residential property, which has been the case since the passage of Proposition 13.

And the goo-goos will likely also get a thrill up their legs about the 54% who like the idea of replacing the two-thirds vote requirement with a 55-percent majority rule for the legislature to pass a state budget.

They may even get goose bumps about the 48% of voters who’d support replacing the two-thirds vote requirement with a 55-percent majority standard to pass local special taxes.

But before falling into a total swoon, these good folks should duly note that the same statewide survey found: 58% of likely voters say Proposition 13 is still a good thing; 64% still favor term limits; 65% would limit annual state spending increases; and 55% say laws passed by initiative are probably better than those passed by the legislature and governor.

In other words, California voters like the idea of major changes, but when it comes to actually making changes – don’t bet the house.

gavindash

Two faces of Gavin: SF Mayor Gavin Newsom was sharp as a tack in an interview about his campaign for governor on KCRA’s “Which Way LA” Thursday.

With host Warren Olney flinging tough questions, Prince Gavin showed he can handle serious subjects in crisp sound bites – laying out the key constitutional revisions he’d like to see, his top priorities as governor, where he’d look for new revenue (tobacco tax, oil severance tax and vehicle license fees) and why he believes he was right to lead the way in standing up for gay marriage.

It’s clear that by routinely taking questions from the public and reporters  (as opposed to, oh say, Meg Whitman, just to pick a name out of the air) Newsom has honed his campaign skills. As Calbuzz told Olney on his post-interview segment, Newsom’s political problem is not one  of presentation; rather, he needs to convince enough donors that he’s a smart investment to put together the resources to run a serious campaign. And that’s a tough sell because Attorney General Jerry Brown – who’s about 20 points ahead of Newsom in serious polling — is especially popular with older voters. And about 68% of the June 2010 primary electorate is expected to be 50 and older.

But we gotta say – he gives good interview.

gavinpensiveOn the other hand: SF Weekly presents a decidedly unflattering portrait of Newsom in the Calbuzz Must-Read of the Week. Pulling more than its share of the local media’s load of responsibility for enlightening the rest of us about Prince Gavin, the paper published a terrific 4,622-word profile by Ashley Harrell, who interviewed boatloads of former advisers, consultants and supporters:

“Seek out the political operatives who once worked closely with Newsom, and you’ll find that a number have soured on the mayor. Ask them why, and you’ll be bombarded with his alleged character flaws. Among them: ‘thin-skinned,’ ‘disloyal,’ ‘friendless,’ ‘joyless,’ ‘Machiavellian,’ ‘craven,’ and ‘empty.’ One will tell you that Eric Jaye was ‘the best-paid babysitter in California.’ Several will diagnose Newsom with an acute case of narcissism.

“‘He’s probably the worst mayor in modern history,’ said Jack Davis, a strategist who has worked on the mayoral campaigns of Newsom, Willie Brown, and Frank Jordan. ‘I pity this poor state if lightning should strike and this cad becomes governor amidst the problems that the state has. He’d have a nervous breakdown. There’s no there there.’”

Must read II: The indefatigable Mark Z. Barabak offered up a considerably brisker profile of Newsom that, in a series of deft strokes, also cut to the core of what bothers lots of folks in San Francisco about their mayor – and explains why Brown runs ahead of Prince Gavin in SF.

“Still, to a striking degree, some of Newsom’s biggest backers — in civic groups and policy circles, among political activists and campaign donors — have in the last few years become some of the mayor’s sharpest critics. In a series of interviews, they expressed disappointment and accused Newsom, in words oft-repeated, of focusing more on self-aggrandizement and personal publicity than solving the city’s problems.

‘Once he’s said it and it’s printed in the newspapers, it’s done in his mind,’ said Jim Ross, a political consultant who ran Newsom’s 2003 campaign for mayor. ‘Then it’s on to the next big announcement.’”

This just in – U.S. land mass growing exponentially: A headline on the Huffpost home page last week read thusly: “Hundreds of states shut down to save money.”